By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Advocates of affordable housing had cause to celebrate in late June after the Louisville Metro Council decided to include $1 million in the 2013-2014 city budget for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The housing fund was established by the Metro Council in 2008 but the council had failed to provide a source of revenue for the fund since its inception.
Members of the organization CLOUT — Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together — welcomed the council’s decision, but said more is needed to solve Louisville’s housing crisis. Among CLOUT’s members are Catholic parishes and representatives of Catholic Charities of Louisville, which works to create affordable housing.
“We have people working two jobs in Louisville who still can’t afford a place to call home,” said Chris Kolb, co-president of CLOUT, in a media release. “We are very happy that Metro Council is beginning to recognize that the housing crisis in Louisville is very real, but there is still a long way to go and CLOUT will keep up the fight.”
When the Metro Council established the fund as a private non-profit agency in 2008, it set a goal for it to be funded by public revenue at a rate of $10 million a year. A proposed ordinance that would have provided that revenue failed in February. The funding would have been generated by raising the insurance premium tax rate.
The fund was established to provide loans and grants to both non-profit and for-profit organizations that create affordable housing units. But without a dedicated source of funding, that work has been limited. The executive director, Rachel Hurst, said in an interview several months ago that the fund had about $400,000 which it uses to provide loans. But to help people living in poverty, she said, the agency needs to be able to award grants.
CLOUT co-president Kolb, who is also a Spalding University instructor, said in the press release that the need for affordable housing in Louisville has become more dire since the creation of the housing agency.
“While the Affordable Housing Trust Fund has languished for five years without the funding necessary to create homes working people can afford, during that same time the number of homeless children in Jefferson County Public Schools has more than doubled, as has the number of families on the city’s waiting list for housing,” he said.
Kolb said about 12,000 JCPS students were homeless last year and more than 25,000 families were waiting for housing.
He called on the community to “address this crisis” by finding an ongoing, dedicated source of revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.